Pearl River rallies to thrilling win in regular season finale

Pearl River rallies to thrilling win in regular season finale

SENATOBIA, Miss. — Pearl River's volleyball team proved Wednesday that it's not always how you start but how you finish that matters most. Despite being in a deep hole early in their regular season finale at Northwest, PRCC built an impressive comeback to knock off the Rangers 3-2 (21-25, 18-25, 25-17, 25-12, 15-9). 

"We had to find humility today and sometimes that takes two whole sets," PRCC coach Haley Chatham said. "Northwest made us work for that one; but I'm thankful to be reminded of our capabilities, even when we are down two just before next week's play-in match."

In addition to going 5-0 against the Rangers on the season, Pearl River (13-8 overall) closed out the regular season winning five of its final six competitions. 

HOW THE MATCH WAS WON
The Wildcats got off to a slow start, dropping the first set 25-21 and second set 25-18.

The third set saw Pearl River and Northwest (6-11) trade blows early. Tied 2-2, PRCC took 5 of 6 to jump ahead 7-3. The run was punctuated by an Avery Beth Durdin (Olive Branch; Lewisburg) ace. 

Each side traded 3-0 runs and battled back and forth until PRCC pulled ahead 13-9 on a kill by Diamond Jones (Gonzales, La.; East Ascension). After NWCC pulled within two, PRCC ripped off three more points. The run was highlighted by a Durdin attack that was blocked out of bounds for a 16-11 lead. The blocking error forced the Rangers to call a timeout.

A kill by Leighton Willoughby (Brandon; Northwest Rankin) off a Durdin quickset pushed PRCC ahead 18-13. The Wildcats later took a 20-14 lead thanks to a combo block from Willoughby and Tori Havens (Lucedale; George County). After taking the next point, PRCC forced NWCC to take a second timeout and regroup. 

The Wildcats took the 24th and 25th points for the 25-17 victory on a Jones kill and a Jones-Durdin block.

The fourth set was all PRCC early on as the Wildcats took a commanding 7-2 lead that consisted of back-to-back kills by Jones and consecutive strikes from Durdin.

Durdin and Willoughby later teamed up for a block to give PRCC a 10-4 lead. After trading points, the Wildcats went on a 6-1 run to force a NWCC timeout leading 18-7.

The Wildcats and Rangers traded shots out of the break but PRCC took the final four points — including the fifth on an attacking error by NWCC to claim the 25-12 victory and force a decisive fifth set.

In the fifth set it was more back-and-forth action early on until PRCC forced a Northwest timeout leading 5-3. A Havens-Willoughby block forced another NWCC timeout with PRCC ahead 9-6.

Out of the break, Leah Draine (Mobile, Ala.; Mattie T. Blount) slammed home a point. Northwest took the next point but PRCC reeled off four straight thanks to a Willoughby swing, Amy Wright (Palm Bay, Fla.; Melbourne Central Catholic) ace and back-to-back kills from Havens.

After the Rangers claimed two points to pull within five, 14-9, Jones put the set on ice finding open court for the final kill of the match.

"I think they all played an important role in responding to an 0-2 start," Chatham said. "It takes guts to step back out and take three in a row to win the match."

NEXT UP
The Wildcats will make their postseason debut next Wednesday as they participate in the Alabama Community College Conference, which will be hosted at Wallace State-Hanceville. PRCC will face the ACCC's No. 6 seed 5:30 p.m. The tournament runs until April 3.

The tournament will be streamed for free at JockJive.com/ACCCSports.html.

For the latest on Pearl River Community College athletics, follow us on Twitter (@PRCCAthletics) and Facebook (PRCCAthletics).